Patient privacy remains crucial during public health crisis

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Even in times of a public health emergency, patient privacy rules and regulations are still in effect.

The balance between health care, information security and privacy rights can be difficult to find during this current COVID-19 public health emergency. The Enterprise Privacy Office is working diligently to support Augusta University Health System providers with new flexibilities offered by the federal government (such as telehealth and virtual screenings) while also ensuring the privacy and security of our patients’ health information.

Using and disclosing health information is necessary to provide quality health care, but it must be done with our patients’ privacy in mind. Whether you are involved in direct patient care, work in a supporting unit or volunteering during this crisis, you are a part of our care giving team, and maintaining privacy is everyone’s responsibility. 

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and we prepare to see increased cases in our community, please remember the following:

  1. You must still ensure the confidentiality of private health information of patients.
  2. You may only access, use or disclose the minimum PHI needed to perform your job.
  3. You have completed employee training on privacy and security.
  4. You may contact the Privacy Office any time with questions, thoughts or concerns.

The Enterprise Privacy Office monitors access to patient records and information, and is required to continue this diligent oversight during an emergency. Please note that in order to safeguard protected patient information, the Privacy Office is also monitoring the access of cases involving coronavirus/COVID-19, and will follow up accordingly.

The Privacy Office is available to assist you. Questions about whether it is appropriate to use or disclose PHI may be directed to the office 24/7, and a privacy representative will respond as soon as possible. You will also find helpful information in this tip sheet.

Questions about the number of affected individuals or the general condition of patients should be directed to the Division of Communications and Marketing at 706-522-3023.

You may also keep up with the latest statistics, news and information by frequently visiting the university’s dedicated COVID-19 resources page.

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Written by
Denise Parrish

Denise Parrish is Director of Communications for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic at 706-721-9760 or

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Written by Denise Parrish

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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